Pictured Above: U.S. Coast Guard Long Island Sound Sector Commander Capt. Eva Van Camp presented the Coast Guard;s Certificate of Merit to the Cross Sound Ferry Cape Henlopen crew on Friday| (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony J. Pappaly
Crew members from the Cross Sound Ferry’s Cape Henlopen were honored by the U.S. Coast Guard in an onboard ceremony in New London, Conn. on Aug. 14 for their July 20 rescue of five boaters on a sinking vessel off Plum Island.
The ferry had just left Orient Point on its last crossing to Connecticut on that July evening when it received a report of a vessel taking on water in the turbulent waters of Plum Gut, a fertile fishing ground, with five people on board.
The Cape Henlopen’s Captain, Mike Ward, knew they were very close to the vessel in danger and steered the ferry toward an intermittent light they saw that seemed to indicate a vessel in distress.
The ferry crew, Scott Ballroom, Gerald Flanders, Stephen Godfrey, Justin Jarmolowicz, Jason Lebel, James Payton, Brian Watson and Nikolaus VonHalem, launched their lifeboat, which deployed a Jason’s Cradle rescue stretcher to bring the five distressed boaters aboard.
The distressed boaters were then taken back to the ferry, checked for medical concerns and transported to shore.
“In talking to Captain Ward, he said these were operations as normal. They sprung into action. This is what they train for,” said U.S. Coast Guard Long Island Sound Sector Commander Capt. Eva Van Camp, who presented the crew members and captain of the Cape Henlopen with a Certificate of Merit in a brief ceremony on Aug. 14.
The Certificate of Merit is an honor the Coast Guard gives civilians who are involved in significant endeavors that forward the agency’s mission to ensure maritime safety, security and stewardship.
“I want to reiterate the training piece,” said Capt. Van Camp. “This is not only what the Coast Guard does, but what all ferries do.”
“I’m grateful for a great crew that responded without even a second thought,” said Captain Held. “Everything went according to plan, like we train. I appreciate all the hard work they do, and I’m grateful it turned out the way it did.”
The 328-foot Cape Henlopen is the most storied vessel among the Cross Sound Ferry’s fleet. It is an LST (Landing Ship, Tank), number 510, originally built during World War II. It transported soldiers and equipment during the daring cross-channel invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was converted to a ferry in 1966 and purchased and renovated by the Cross Sound Ferry service in 1983. Its passenger cabins are filled with murals, photos and historic quotes from D-Day, which changed the course of the war in favor of the Allies in Europe.